December

Early next morning Hunter came in,

"Mr. Barry," he said as the door was opened.

"You can come with me."

A couple of big strides brought Snake to the door.

"Turn around," Hunter ordered.

Snake looked at him for a second and slowly turned his back to him, he was cuffed.

"Is this necessary?" he asked.

"Standard procedure," Hunter said as he turned Snake around and guided him in the right direction.

"See you later ladies," Snake said as he walked off.

'Don't bet on it,' McCall thought.

A few minutes later Hunter returned to get both Hannah and McCall, he took the to an interview room.

"Mr. Barry is in an cell with closed walls and door thinking he'll be out soon," Hunter said as he closed the door.

"Sit down, can I get you some coffee?" he asked Hannah.

"Yeah, thanks,"

"McCall?"

"No, thanks," even the smell of coffee made her feel sick lately.

Hunter could tell her disgust but didn't say anything about it.

"You want me to tell you about Snake right?" Hannah broke the silence.

"We know what he did but we want to know what you know about it," Hunter said as he poured the coffee.

"Nothing," Hannah replied.

"I don't believe you, I think you know more but are afraid to tell. Afraid Snake or one of his mates will do the same to you."

"We can protect you, you know," McCall pitched in.

"Yeah right. They promised Carla protection and look what happened to her."

"We will you and anyone who is willing to help us put this scumbag off the street."

"How long will he be behind barrs?"

"The rest of his sorry life, at least."

Hannah still hesitated.

"You are going into the witness protection program, you'll get a new identity, a new past and you'll be moved to another state. With your mom." McCall explained.

"My mom? I don't even know where she is."

"I found her, she's on her way," Hunter replied.

"Well, my life can't get any worse then it is now. I was there, all his girls were there when he strangled Carla."

"Snake did it himself?" Hunter asked.

"Yeah, we were having breakfast, he came into the kitchen, put a rope around Carla's neck and strangled her. Then he ordered two girls to help him carry her outside to his car and put her in the trunk. One of his mates named Slim stayed behind to guard us until he got back. When he did get back we were send out on the street to do our business, no one ever said anything. We all knew, we got the message, mess with Snake and die. He knew."

"Do you think the other girls will tell their story?"

"I'll talk to them if you want. I think I can convince them it's safe and that we can put an end to this."

"We can make sure they get some help getting their lives back together." McCall promised.

Hannah had a long talk with the rest of the girls and they decided to help and tell their story making sure Snake would pay for what he had done. Now it was time for Hannah to be reunited with her mother.

McCall took her to Captain Devane's office where Hunter and Ann Hudson were waiting. As soon as the door opened they both broke down in tears followed by a hug.

"Let's leave them for a while," Hunter said quietly to McCall.

"Yeah, they have a lot of catching up to do."

It took them a few days to get all the statements from the girls. Thanks to Hannah they were willing to cooperate. The DA had enough to put Snake away for a long time. He also said he would do everything to make sure the trial would be over soon so everyone could get on with their lives.

Hunter prepared the group who were willing to testify,

"The DA will notify you when he thinks your testimony is needed, he will explain everything to you. Don't be afraid, Snake will not be able to get to you."

A sigh went through the room.

"We will need an address or phone number where you can be reached."

After the girls had left Hunter went back to his desk finding McCall sitting at hers staring into space nibbling on a cracker.

"Hello, anyone there?" he asked waving his hand in front of her.

"Oh hi, how did you go with the girls?"

"Fine, no problem. What's on your mind?"

"I got a letter from Mel. She and Dave are expecting a baby."

"That's great news, when is she due?"

"In about 5 months. She wrote that her Captain has put her on desk duty already. It's driving her nuts."

"I can imagine, she's not the desk type."

"Not at all, I feel sorry for her."

"Charlie would do the same to you, you know."

"I know," she answered wondering if Hunter suspected anything.

She didn't want to tell him just yet that she'd seen Beth last week and that her suspicions were true, she was pregnant again.

The feeling that he knew something didn't let go of her for the rest of the day.

That evening, while Hunter was making dinner, McCall made a start on a letter to Mel.

"Don't write anything I wouldn't," he said from the kitchen when he saw what she was doing.

"I wouldn't dream of it. Dinner ready yet? I'm starving."

"Almost, you could make yourself useful and set the table."

A short while later they were sitting at the table. Hunter was watching in amazement how McCall poured plenty of ketchup over his rice with salmon and vegetables.

"If I didn't know any better I'd say you were the one being pregnant instead of Mel."

McCall looked up, "Why?"

"Look at what you're doing to my fine cooking!"

"It's just a little ketchup."

"A little! More like a whole bottle."

She looked down at her plate and back up to Hunter,

"I don't see the problem," she said and took a bite.

"Great cooking hon."

Shaking his head he started on his own dinner.

The next day McCall went to see Kitty. She was surprised to see Kitty open the door herself,

"Where's your butler?"

"Running an errand. He's driving me insane. Come in."

She entered and Kitty closed the door behind her,

"The doctor said I had to start doing things as soon as I felt up to it. I feel up to it but Brad insists on keeping me an invalid."

"He's just looking out for you."

"Yeah, yeah, I know. He means well and everything. Want some coffee?"

"Tea please if you got any."

"I have."

McCall followed Kitty into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

"So when are you due?" Kitty asked.

"Hoe did you know?" McCall answered in surprise.

"Call it female intuition and a sister who has two kids. I could read the signs the last time I saw you."

McCall sighed, "You read it right. I'm due in about 5 1/2 months."

"That's great news, how did Rick react?"

"I haven't told him yet."

"What! The most important thing in your lives just happened and you haven't told him yet?"

"I haven't found the right time."

"Is there a right time?"

"I don't know."

"There isn't, believe me."

Kitty put two steaming cups of tea on the table and sat down.

"Just sit him down and tell him."

"That easy huh?"

"It is and you know it. When is that pimp's trial by the way."

"They haven't set a date yet, I hope it will be soon for the sake of the girls."

"I have seen some bad pimps in my time but this one.."

They enjoyed the tea in silence.

Later that morning McCall had her chance to talk to Hunter. She was gonna meet him for lunch.

"Enjoying your day off?" he asked her as they were looking through the menu.

"Yeah, I went to see Kitty."

"How is she doing?"

"Great, Brad is driving her nuts, she can't lift a finger without him getting all fussy."

"Taking his job very seriously is he."

"I guess."

"I think I'd do the same."

"You think? I know you'd do the same."

"Thank you very much for the vote of confidence," he said with a grin.

A short while after ordering a waitress brought their food. McCall took a bite and decided it needed a little ketchup. Hunter watched in disgust as she poured the red substance over her food.

"DeeDee, please."

"It just needs a little something," she replied.

"Give me a break."

"I will, after you tell me what's going on," he said taking the bottle from her before she could empty it.

A deep sigh followed, "I wanted to wait until Christmas with telling you this."

Hunter looked at her, "Wait until Christmas? You know what's going on already?"

"Yes," she said hesitantly, looking down at her plate.

Suddenly it struck him, the tea drinking, the sick feelings, the weird eating habits.

"DeeDee, are you pregnant?"

She looked up, eyes filled with tears and nodded yes.

"When did you find out? How long?"

"I went to see Beth last week and she confirmed it. I'm about 3 1/2 months gone and everything is fine. Can I have the ketchup back now?"

He handed her the bottle and watched as she poured the remainder of the stuff over her food.

"You'd better start eating, your food is getting cold."

"You know what this means," Charlie said the next morning after they told him.

"Desk duty," McCall growled.

"Not just desk duty. I'll have to tell upstairs about this."

"That means splitting us up as partners," Hunter sighed.

"You know how it works."

"A lot will change anyway," McCall pitched in.

"I think I'll need another kind of police work once the baby is born. I don't wanna spend all my time working. Don't get me wrong, I love being a cop but being a mother is something I wanted for a long time."

"I'll see what I can do, okay?" Charlie promised.

"Thanks Charlie,"

It took a few days before Charlie had some news, "Juvi has got an opening that would be perfect for you. A mix between street and desk work, 9 to 5 and childcare, if you want it."

"Sounds great, who do I talk to?"

"They'll let me know when they want to interview you. I gave them a recommendation."

"You got everything worked out, thanks."

Later that day both Hunter and McCall were due in court to give evidence in the case against Snake. For Hannah and her mom this was the last chance to thank them before starting their new life. When they were all done it was time for goodbye. Hannah brought them a present, a picture of her and her mom,

"To remember me by," she said as McCall unwrapped it.

"I'm not gonna forget you anyway," she promised.

"Neither will I," Hunter pitched in.

Hannah hugged the both of them, "Thank you for finding my mom, thank you for helping the girls, thank you for everything."

"You're welcome," they both said.

A few weeks later on Christmas Eve, they were sitting on the deck. A warm fire was burning in front of them. They had heard some great news earlier about the case against Snake, he wasn't gonna get out of prison for the rest of his life.

"Justice was served this time," Hunter said.

"Hmm," was McCall's reply leaning against him with her eyes closed.

"Are you sleeping?"

"Almost, It's such a nice night."

"It sure is," he wrapped his arms around her.

"I've got a present for you," Hunter said a few minutes later and put his hand in his pocket.

When he opened his hand there was a small black box in it.

"What's this?" McCall said surprised.

"Open it."

Carefully she took the box and opened it. Inside was a ring, a very old looking but beautiful ring.

"Oh Rick, It's gorgeous," she said softly.

"It's been in my family for a long time," he took the ring out of it's box and slid it on her finger.

A perfect fit.

"Thank you," McCall turned around and kissed him.

"I love you," he said.

"I love you too."

Christmas was spend with informing the families about the wedding plans and the pregnancy. Everyone was ecstatic, especially Hunter's mom when she saw McCall wearing the ring she had given her son earlier that year.

A little later she took McCall aside,

"I will take care of the wedding for you, you don't have to do a thing."

Hunter had warned her about his mom, she wanted them to have a big Italian wedding. They just wanted a quiet ceremony on the beach with family and some close friends.

She had her plan ready,

"That's really generous of you but there's a problem."

"A problem?"

"My mom had the same idea and you can't really say no to your own mother. Why don't you work together?" she suggested.

McCall knew her mom would respect their wishes concerning the wedding and was able to convince Hunter's mom.

"I'll call her first thing in the morning," she replied.

"Good thing you told me about your mom," McCall said on the way home.

"Yeah, she did the same thing for my cousins wedding."

"I hope it's gonna be alright."

"Your mom will sort it out."

"They are both pretty headstrong."

"Don't worry." a mysterious smile played his lips but McCall didn't notice.

The week between Christmas and New Years was hectic. McCall finally had her interview at Juvi and got the job. Hunter was assigned a new partner but didn't have to break him in, it was Brad.

He and Kitty finally admitted they were crazy about each other. Kitty was the lucky one breaking in a new partner.

New Years Eve, Brad, Kitty, DeeDee and Rick were having a party at Rick's place. It was almost midnight, champagne glasses were being filled for a toast. They had spend the evening looking back at he year gone by and decided the next one was gonna be better.

"Get ready to count down," Brad said while he checked his watch and raised his glass.

"Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one...happy New Year!"